Sunday, 13 January 2013

the end of the road

Ajaccio harbour
It's Sunday morning and the sun is out as we eat our breakfast in the harbour of Ajaccio.  The market in the square is busy with locals and full of enticing fresh produce - the highlight being the urchins being sold by four women at stalls outside the fish hall. The black spiny creatures wiggle in the crates but look quite different when they are sliced open, the orange flesh exposed.  We set off around the bay and up the road to Chantal and Jacques' home.  Friends of Albane and Benoit from Grenoble, they have invited us to stay in their wooden house when we arrive even though they won't be back from visiting family until Monday.  So, bizarrely, we are going to stay with someone who isn't there.

We take a small quiet road that climbs up away from the main road, luxuriating in the warm sunshine and remarking that the stone houses we pass remind us of Hebden Bridge. Apart from the palm and orange trees in the gardens, that is. We are wearing cycling shorts for the first time in a long while.  The final stage of our ride is up a steep road to a clutch of houses high up on the hillside.  We pause to check our map.  A woman passing by asks us in English if we need help.  Chantal and Jacques? Yes, keep going up. You see that house at the top? They live beyond that.  Eventually we have to push the bikes as the gradient gets steeper.  Just like Hebden Bridge.  But for the last twenty metres it's too much.  It takes two of us to push each loaded bike up to the wooden house.  Finally, as Jacques tells us with a big smile later, we have reached the end of the road.
it's a shorts day
Inside the wooden house is a simple living room with kitchenette, a deck, and a small bathroom.  Up the stairs is a bedroom.  We find a book of photos telling the story of the building of the house and recall Benoit explaining how Jacques and Chantal decided to build it so that there was a space for visiting family and friends.  They live in the main house next door with their two young children Jeanne and Joseph.  The story shows how the house was built with help from many friends.  It's a bit strange having no-one to meet but we are glad to unload and have somewhere so comfortable to stay.
the wooden house

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